CIVIC chiefs have allowed the biggest music festival in Hampshire to expand its capacity by thousands – despite being warned of the “risks to public safety”.

Boomtown now has permission to host a maximum of 76,999 people, including staff and security, after an application was approved at a Winchester City Council licensing sub-committee on Tuesday.

This will increase the current maximum capacity by 10,000 – but will not be in effect until 2020.

David Pain, representing Cheriton Parish Council, expressed his concern for public safety.

He said: “The council in this situation has no independent means when it comes to numbers, and can only accept the numbers that are given by the organisers, which are of course subject to error.

“They are even more so subject to error with thousands more people, and should there be a major fire like there was in 2016, the public would be at risk.”

Many residents from villages near Matterley Bowl have been against Boomtown since it first started.

Objectors believe it causes a “horrendous” traffic build-up. Some believe it is too loud to be held in a national park area.

Mr Stephen Walsh, representing the applicant Boomtown Festivals Ltd UK, said: “I understand all of the concerns, which are all completely legitimate, that have been raised here today.

“But we must look at the positives of Boomtown. There are a large number of people who visit the area during the festival, which promotes it to people who may not usually use it, or even think to come and see it.”

In 2020, the maximum capacities will be: 27,500 on the Wednesday, 75,999 on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday, and 76,999 on the Sunday.

This year’s festival will run between August 7 and 12, and headliners include American singer-songwriter and rapper Ms Lauryn Hill, rap-rock super group Prophets of Rage, and The Streets, the iconic alternative hip-hop band from Birmingham.